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Massachusetts Charter Schools

New Deadline and Process for Charter Amendments

To:Current and Prospective Charter School Leaders and Developers
From:Mary Street, Director of Charter Schools
Date:May 26, 2005

stopline

This memo notifies you of the Department's new submission date, August 1, and policy for amendment requests involving: maximum enrollment increases or changes to grades served, districts specified in a school's charter (the charter school's "region"), or location of facilities, if such changes involve relocating or expanding to another municipality. In addition, it describes the process for determining the allocation of seats in the context of the Net School Spending (NSS) Cap.

The Charter School Statute, MGL Chapter 71 Section 89 (i), states, in part, that "in any fiscal year, no public school district's total charter school tuition payment to commonwealth charter schools shall exceed 9 per cent of said district's net school spending." There is complex interplay between charter closures, new charter applications, and amendment requests for enrollment changes as well as constantly fluctuating NSS. As more districts approach the cap, the Department and Board of Education will manage the awarding of additional seats-either through the granting of new charters or through the granting of amendment requests-in order to ensure that charter schools are not awarded seats for which they will not be paid due to the legislated NSS cap.

Amendment Process and Policy:

  1. Amendment requests for maximum enrollment increases or changes to grades served, districts specified in a school's charter (the charter school's "region"), or location of facilities, if such changes involve relocating or expanding to another municipality, must be submitted to the Charter School Office by August 1 of each year.

  2. Amendment requests for maximum enrollment increases will be evaluated using criteria developed by the Department and, if recommended by the Commissioner for approval, submitted to the Board of Education for action at the October meeting. Enrollment increases approved by the Board will take effect for the following school year.

  3. The Department will endeavor to approve or deny amendment requests for changes in grades served, districts specified in a school's charter, or location of facilities, if such changes involve relocating or expanding to another municipality, within 60 days after receiving complete requests.

  4. After the completion of the April 1 Pre-Enrollment Report each year, the Department of Education will estimate the total number of seats available under the net school spending (NSS) cap of 9% in each district in the Commonwealth.

  5. To determine the total number of seats available under the NSS cap, the Department will prepare an analysis of reported pre-enrollment data in combination with the total number of seats already held by existing charter schools.

  6. The Department will reserve up to 25% of the seats available in each district to allow for fluctuations in the NSS calculation.

  7. After the completion of the April 1 Pre-Enrollment Report each year, the Department may choose annually to establish a maximum number of seats to be made available for potential new charter school applicants if a district is approaching the 9% NSS cap. New charter school applicants may apply for up to the maximum number of seats determined to be available. For FY06, the Department will reserve at least 50% of available seats for new charter school applicants.

When making amendment requests, please be sure to follow the instructions contained in the Charter School Technical Advisory 03-3: Charter Amendments. For the most recent information regarding the number of seats remaining in a given school district, please refer to Appendix A of the 2005-2006 Application for a Massachusetts Public School Charter which can be found at http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Kim Wechtenhiser at kwechtenhiser@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3226, Cliff Chuang at cchuang@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3228, or me at mstreet@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3200.

Last Updated: May 26, 2005

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